Did you know that Japan once adapted Sailor Moon into a live-action television show similar to Power Rangers? It was called Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (or PGSM for short) and it was a live-action reinterpretation based off the Sailor Moon manga created by Naoko Takeuchi
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ran for just one season from 4 October 2003 to 25 September 2004. The show was produced due to the popularity of the live-action Sailor Moon stage musicals in Japan and involved Naoko Takeuchi in the development much more than the original anime did. The live-action adaptation introduced several plot changes to the series to bring freshness and originality to the show making it a unique chapter in the franchise. If you haven't seen Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon this article will contain spoilers.
"I am the Pretty Sailor Guardian of Love and Everything Little, Sailor Luna! In the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!"
Sailor Luna's introduction
Luna is a talking black cat that is Usagi's guardian and a mentor to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians. Luna (whose name means moon in multiple languages) is described as being a small cat with sleek black fur and having a large yellow crescent moon mark in the middle of her forehead. She was first introduced in the manga and has appeared in every adaptation of Sailor Moon ever since. In the manga, it is revealed Luna is an alien from the planet Mau. The inhabitants of her homeworld can shapeshift between talking felines and humanoids with feline characteristics. Luna appears as a human in the manga and the original anime, where she has the form of a young woman with curly, long black hair and a crescent moon mark on her forehead.
The character of Luna is very different in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Instead of being a real cat that can talk, she is instead a plush cat that can walk and talk. This doesn't translate very well into the show. The scenes featuring Luna either show a plush toy puppet or a poorly computer-animated version of Luna running around.
Sailor Luna is a unique form of Luna that only appears in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. After Usagi awakens as Princess Serenity, Luna is bathed in the light of the Silver Crystal and its power gives her the ability to transform into a small human girl with blue hair. Once in her human form, Luna can transform into a Guardian by taking out a mobile phone and dialling 672 into it. Her transformation is adorable and hilarious. She spins in a circle, shakes her butt, and acts very cat-like while being showered in candy. I really like her Sailor Suit. She has long white gloves and blue boots lined with white fur, cat ears in her hair, a puffy purple and yellow skirt, and a yellow bow with a bell in the middle like you would find on a cat's collar.
Sailor Luna was a fun character. Her role in the show and within the Tsukino household was very similar to Chibi-Usa's. It took me a while to come around to the idea of Sailor Luna, but she grew on me. It's a very cute concept and they pulled it off very well in the live-action.
Dark Mercury is an evil form of Sailor Mercury that only appears in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Dark Mercury first appears in Act 21 after Kunzite kidnaps Ami and exposes her to the power of Queen Metaria infecting her with evil.
Afterwards, Ami experiences a drastic personality change, starts dressing in black and turns against her friends. She transforms into Dark Mercury by shouting "Dark power! Make up!" in a dark and evil voice. Her sailor suit is similar to her Sailor Mercury's outfit, but it has black lace and a large black bow, a black tiara, her blue hair has black highlights, her transformation bracelet is black and her boots have black streaks on them. Dark Mercury also wields a sword fashioned from an icicle.
As an agent of the Dark Kingdom, Dark Mercury/Evil Ami takes a sadistic glee in tormenting her friends and tries to kill them several times. Her storyline comes to an end in Act 28, when after defeating Sailor Moon, she realises that she still cares for Usagi.
Dark Mercury was a really fun character. Her character reminded me a lot of Black Lady, who an evil form of Chibi-Usa, and goes on a similar journey of redemption that Dark Mercury does. It was exciting seeing Ami, who is typically a very sweet and innocent character, turn evil. This wasn't the first time that Sailor Mercury has turned evil. She also had an evil form in the Sailor Stars arc of the manga.
3. Princess Sailor Moon
Princess Sailor Moon might be the most interesting and original change made to the Sailor Moon canon in the live-action. Princess Sailor Moon is a powerful combination of Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity that only appears in the live-action show. Princess Sailor Moon is introduced when Usagi is possessed by the spirit of her former self, Princess Serenity, after Queen Beryl takes the shitennou hostage in exchange for Mamoru.
Princess Sailor Moon is not the same person as Usagi and they have very different personalities. When Usagi becomes Princess Sailor Moon, her uniform changes and becomes more elaborate, with pearls and white fabric and she wears a crown on her head. Princess Sailor Moon is much more powerful than Sailor Moon and has a powerful sword which doubles as a harp that she can use to deflect enemy attacks and produce bursts of magical energy and explosions. Princess Sailor Moon shows little remorse or empathy, is always angry, cares little about the Earth and has no misgivings about causing death and destruction if she is separated from her Endymion.
Princess Serenity is a character who has appeared in every version of the Sailor Moon franchise. The character has always been shown as graceful and goddess-like, with a child-like curiosity of the Earth, and a strong sense of right and wrong that follows her into her next life as Usagi. The live-action was the first time Serenity's character was drastically rewritten and given flaws.
I really liked the character of Princess Sailor Moon. The show did a good job of exploring her character a lot more and making her much more human. After witnessing the destruction of the Moon and Earth Kingdoms, Serenity is no longer the child-like, innocent girl she was. She has a lot of anger toward Queen Beryl and is determined to get revenge!
4. The Sailor Guardians didn't have coloured hair until they transformed
Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians are well known for having stylistic, brightly coloured hair. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon changed this. In the live-action, the girls' have normal coloured hair as civilians, that only changes colour when they transform into Guardians. They made other changes to how they transformed as well. In the anime, Mars, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter transformed with magic pens. In the live-action adaption, they transform with an item called the Jewellery Star Bracelet instead.
The Jewellery Star Bracelet is an item exclusive to Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. When not being used, it has the appearance of a small silver bracelet that can be worn around the wrist. But when activated it transforms into a larger, bulkier device, that takes up a lot of space on the arm. The bracelets each come with a gem in the middle, representing the Guardian's primary colour. In the anime and manga, Sailor Moon is famous for transforming with a broach. She uses one in the live-action as well, but wears it around her neck like a pendant, and pairs it with a tube of lipstick.
The transformations in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon used cheap special effects and were pretty cheesy. I don't think they're that bad to be honest and I liked how they took a lot of inspiration from the original anime.
There is one transformation that is hilariously, horribly bad though and that's Tuxedo Mask's. Have a look at 4.06 in this video and you'll see what I mean. I can't watch it without laughing. I feel so bad for him. The Sailor Guardians got to transform in showers of glitter, rose petals and bubbles, and he… got to pull up his pants. But hey, look at him swish that cape!
5. Mars, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter get their own weapons
The Sailor Star Tambourines are star-shaped weapons that are given to Sailor Mars, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus by Artemis in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. The tambourines are star-shaped and have a pink star on top and a heart-shaped gem in the centre in the Guardian's primary colour. The Sailor Guardians can use the Sailor Star Tambourines to focus and increase the strength of their powers, perform special group attacks and Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mercury can use them to perform unique attacks, Jupiter Thunderbolt and Mercury Aqua Storm. The tambourines also have the ability to transform into weapons unique to each of the Guardians. In one of the final episodes of the series, Sailor Mercury turns her tambourine into a blue sword, Sailor Mars creates two daggers, one red and one gold, from her tambourine and Sailor Venus's and Sailor Jupiter turns hers into a lighting staff. It was an awesome moment.
The tambourines were an interesting addition to Sailor Moon. Prior to the live-action, the Inner Guardians had never fought with physical items before, only elemental attacks. I didn't like the tambourines for a long time because they were silly and too much like toys. My opinion of them changed after they turned into more impressive-looking weapons. I was sold on them then. Sailor Jupiter with a lightning staff? Sailor Mercury with a wicked-looking blade? Sailor Mars with twin daggers? Brilliant!
I just wish that they had turned them into weapons a lot sooner so we could have seen the Guardians use them in action a lot more.